Monday, December 19, 2011

Adjectives , adjectives everywhere...

It started like this...

"The floral scent of spring drifting in through the French doors of the wrap-around porch seemed wholly inappropriate. It was a sickly smell and so overpowering it felt as though the garish begonia pattern on the synthetic fabric of the couch cushions had come to life beneath her and was swiftly decaying."

Too many adjectives! Why do so many of us instinctively overwrite in an attempt to write well. I tell my students so often, less is more. Take out all the adjectives and marvel at the beauty in the simplicity of what is left over. Although, I think it's better to write everything that comes to you first, then go back and hack out all the offending descriptives.

Anyway, it ended up like this...

"The scent of spring drifting through the French doors seemed wholly inappropriate. A smell so overpowering it was as if the garish begonias on the cushions had come to life beneath her. Sickly, as if they had come to life only to start decaying. Inappropriate because her grandmother was dying upstairs and it should have smelled like wood fire or rain. Not fat blossoms making love to the bees."


If I have to do this for every four sentences, I'll kill myself.

1 comment:

  1. There's a Douglas Adam's quote which has some small relevance to this phenomenon, but I can't find it online and I can't find my copy of "The long dark teatime of the soul", so from memory:

    "The first thing a publisher asks when confronted with a new author is not 'Is it any good?' (or 'Is it any good once you've taken all the adjectives out?') but 'Is their surname nice and short and their first name just a bit longer so that the surname can be printed on the cover in large embossed silver letters and the first name fits neatly over the top."


Like what you've read? Hate it? Have a suggestion? Write it down.